Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Banyo

Prime Minister

: Welcome to Lilley, welcome to the Prime Minister, welcome to the Minister for Industry, Ed Husic, the Premier of Queensland, Steven Miles, and welcome to all the great minds at QUT and industry who join us here today to launch our National Battery Strategy right here at Banyo on the north side of Brisbane. Banyo actually was settled in the mid 1800s by German immigrant farmers. They used to grow pineapples and watermelons along the streets where we are now, but here today 170 years on, we are growing battery tech with the people Banyo and Nudgee and Geebung and Eagle Farm and all of the suburbs and all of the local workers who make up this proud industrial hub. We’ve got Triple Eight Race Engineering just around the corner. Those great minds created the supercar that powered Jamie Whincup to multiple championship victories. We’ve got Arnott’s, we’ve got Golden Circle, we’ve got Sanofi, and now here we have this QUT Battery Facility where we are launching our National Battery Strategy. It will help recharge our local manufacturing sector, which gives our local workers more local opportunities to have good, secure and permanent jobs which help drive our local economy and support small businesses. So it is as a very happy and proud local Member for Lilley that I hand over to the Prime Minister to launch our National Battery Strategy.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much Anika. And it’s great to be back in Lilley here with Minister Husic and with the Premier of Queensland, Steven Miles. And it indeed is a great day. It’s another day where we are writing another chapter in our Future Made in Australia story. A story that’s about making Australia more resilient, about creating more jobs here, about what the future economy looks like, and how we seize the opportunities to take advantage of the comparative advantage we have here in Queensland and indeed here in Australia, from the shifts that we’re seeing in the global economy. And we know when it comes to batteries, it is particularly important. What we will see over coming years is a massive growth in the demand for batteries. They’re a critical ingredient in Australia’s clean energy mix together with renewable energy, green hydrogen and critical minerals, we will meet Australia’s emission reduction targets and create a strong clean energy manufacturing industry, one that creates good value, good high wage, secure jobs into the future. And that is representative of the economic opportunity which my Government is determined to seize. And I want to particularly give a shout out to Ed Husic, the Industry Minister, for the work that he is doing in this area to make sure that we do seize those opportunities. Our National Battery Strategy will focus on four areas, stationary storage, on upgrading raw materials into process battery components, on how we build more safer and secure batteries connected to the grid and building batteries for our transport manufacturing industry. Now, all of that is important, and today, as part of this strategy, we have $540 million. Funding that will be delivered through ARENA. We know ARENA has been particularly effective at identifying industries and businesses to back. This is about backing Australian innovation. Here at QUT, we’re seeing examples of that Australian know how. These men and women who we’ve met today who are producing innovation, producing new products, making a difference for the country, and whilst also what we need to do is to work with the private sector so that we commercialise the opportunities that come from innovation. Too often what we’ve seen in this country is Australia come up with great ideas, and someone else commercialises it offshore. Even one of the companies I’ve met here today are looking at moving back onshore from where they’re located in Southeast Asia, along with the work that they’re doing in the defence sector, those opportunities are really important. And there is no state that is better positioned to benefit from this transition than the great state of Queensland, because it is Australia’s most regional of states. So when we were talked before about one of the batteries that we looked at, there are components of manufacturing there in Townsville, Rockhampton, Maryborough and here. Once again, something in common that occurs is the benefit for regional Queensland and regional Australia, whether it be here or the Hunter Valley or the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland, whether it be the Collie regions in WA, the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, it is our regions that are particularly, in a particular position to benefit. And I’ll hand now to the Premier of the most regional state in Australia, Queensland, before we hear from Minister Husic, then we’re happy to take questions.

STEVEN MILES, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Thanks so much, Prime Minister. It’s great to have you in town again, along with Minister Husic in Anika Wells country here in here in Lilley. My dad worked in the factory not far from here. And my Government and the Albanese Government, share a vision where we make more things here, again. A Future of Made in Australia is a future of made in Queensland. And the world of the future is going to need a lot of batteries. We have everything that we need to make those batteries here, including many of the critical minerals. And what we don’t want to do is dig those minerals up and export them. We want to process them here and use them here in manufacturing. And the Prime Minister is right that won’t just be here in the suburbs of Brisbane, it will be right throughout regional Queensland, places like Townsville and Maryborough and Rockhampton and Mackay are already on the map, processing critical minerals and building battery components. And we want to see more of that. This National Battery Strategy aligns very closely with the Queensland Battery Strategy, which we released not long ago, and which is also a partnership with the Albanese Government. So you can really start to see the benefits of having a State and Australian Government that have a shared vision for our economy and for the jobs of the future.

ED HUSIC, MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY AND SCIENCE: Thanks so much, Premier, and it is a pleasure for the Prime Minister and myself to be able to join with ministerial colleague Anika Wells in launching the National Battery Strategy, which is part of our overall Future Made in Australia approach, remembering that what we’re trying to do is get to net zero by mobilising Australian industry, mobilising our manufacturing strength, to make the things that will help us get to that net zero future. When you look at the situation right now, there are a shade under 4 million Australian households that have solar on their roofs, yet only 250,000 of those 4 million homes have batteries. We have 45 per cent of lithium storage or lithium materials here in Australia, yet we only make 1 per cent of its batteries, and we are overwhelmingly dependent on one country to make all those batteries, and that’s been indicated. The key for us in the transition is to stabilise the grid and to store more of that power. It’s good for homes, it’s good for businesses, and importantly, it’ll be great for jobs, and particularly in different parts of our country. Australia has had the know how in battery tech and lead for many years, yet we always undersell ourselves about scaling up that production. If we want to diversify our supply chains, not be dependent on concentrated supply chains, we’re able to value add on the critical minerals that we overwhelmingly have relative to the rest of the world, and if we also want to be able to cut energy prices, then really what we need to do is start thinking about how we can make more here, looking at different parts of the value chain and leaning in. So, when you consider the critical minerals production tax credit that was announced in the Budget last week, that will really help us ramp up processing. What we can do in cell manufacture, what we can do in terms of software, because the batteries themselves, the way that they manage complex chemistries with a software base that helps drive all that, we need safe and secure batteries, particularly if they’re made here in this country. And it will be a huge jobs bonanza for the country as well. We’ve got a number of great firms and this is picked up in the strategy. The strategy is designed to highlight the skills and capability we have in this country and the way we can join other government programs together to provide that platform for growth. But a lot of our battery companies that are here are not recognised enough, but they are winning contracts here and overseas. They are impressing other countries with how strong their tech is, how reliable their product is. And it’s a great testament to Australian manufacturing that they are able to win those contracts against other companies from other countries. And to be able to put that Made in Australia stamp on their product is something we should be aiming for. Bringing stuff back onshore, scaling up what we can do through the Battery Breakthrough Initiative, nearly half a billion, that was funded under the Federal Budget last week. This is about being able to supercharge our manufacturing capabilities, create great jobs, cut energy prices and be able to involve the country in this effort as we move towards net zero. And that’s why the battery strategy is so important and commended for all levels of government to be able to team up together to work with the private sector to make all this a reality.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Ed. We’re happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Can we have questions about this issue? It’s pretty important first and then happy to take other things. Any questions about this?

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: It’s a matter of supporting, in the initial stages, industries to grow. One of the things that this isn’t about is a protectionist policy. It’s not about government replacing private sector investment, it’s about government activity facilitating private sector investment, and that’s really important. We have an incredible opportunity in this country to make things not just for our domestic economy, but to make things in addition for export. We can be a renewable energy superpower and this is just one area in which we can not just compete but we can beat our rivals. We have companies here who can speak for themselves. I see some of their executives here who I’ve met in Washington DC, because they’ve been successful in the United States more so than here. We haven’t backed our own industry and our own people. My Government is determined to turn that around. Ed, do you want to?

MINISTER HUSIC: What we’re trying to do, obviously, is looking at how dependent we are on concentrated supply chains. How do we stand up greater capability onshore? Our view is to work with the private sector, not just the firms themselves, but also bring on board investors. And so we want to be able to have that support going longer term. And the more that we are backing Australian batteries, particularly the decisions made by businesses and households, then the stronger they get and obviously, over time, you’ll see that tapering. The Battery Breakthrough Initiative that we announced in the Budget is 500 million for firms to step forward and say, “this is what we’re producing now, this is what we can produce with additional support,” and to be able to get them as they start to stand on their own two feet. We don’t imagine that this is something that stays around for an extended period of time, but it is an important boost at this critical point in time to be able to stand up capability.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: We make our own decisions. We make our own decisions and we will continue to do that. I got asked a question yesterday. I didn’t get asked, I got asked an obtuse question yesterday or the day before and today I’ll make this point. That there is no, because I assume you’re referring to the ICC, which actually was signed up to, of course, not by my Government, but by the Howard Government when Alexander Downer was the Foreign Minister. So, it’s up to them, I think, to explain those decisions at that time. What we’ve been very clear about, and I was clear about two days ago, didn’t get a run in any of the quotes that were used, but I made it clear a couple of days ago, our opposition to what happened on October 7, once again, to the terrorist actions of Hamas. There is no equivalence between a terrorist organisation like Hamas, that we support that ongoing classification of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. They confirmed on October 7 with the violent murders and the capturing of hostages that occurred on October 7, that that was the right designation for them to have and that compares and should not be compared with any nation state. We carried a resolution in the Parliament with the support of the Government that I moved and the support of the Opposition that made it clear our opposition to October 7, our call unequivocally for the release of hostages, and our call for an end to the attacks on Israel that were occurring. We also called for, then, for international humanitarian law to be applied as is appropriate. And we also call for since then a humanitarian ceasefire. We call for humanitarian aid and we call for the political advance for a two state solution where both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security as we go forward.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you didn’t mention the ICC in your question at all.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m not about to go into hypotheticals about things that have not happened. There hasn’t actually been, there’s been an application. Be very clear about what’s happened here. There’s been an application. There’s been no determination by the ICC against any individual or anybody at this point in time.

JOURNALIST: If they do proceed with arrest warrants, should we withdrawal from the ICC?

PRIME MINISTER: There hasn’t been and I don’t respond to hypotheticals about court cases that haven’t occurred, with respect.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve stated very clearly, I just went through, and I went through again, our position when it comes to the Middle East and the current conflict in Gaza and Israel. I’ve stated that very clearly. That is a position that I’ve stated whenever I have been asked. What we don’t do is comment on court proceedings. That is standard procedure that we do.

JOURNALIST: Why should Andrew Giles keep his job as immigration Minister after the alleged murder by an ex detainee with a serious criminal history and a bashing in Western Australia also by an ex detainee?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, hang on, the West Australian example, I hope you apply the same principle to Peter Dutton, who was responsible as Minister for Home Affairs for the release of one of the people who were involved in that attack. With regard to the other incident that you raise, that goes to a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I think if you go back and have a look at who appointed the people who made that decision, it wasn’t this Government.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: The ICC, well, that’s a very broad question. The ICC exists. They haven’t made a determination.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: They have not made a decision. They have made an application for the court to make a decision. The ICC was signed up to by John Howard’s Government, not by this Government.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, again, we make our own decisions. We don’t respond to the decisions of other nations. We’re a sovereign state. I had a discussion with the, I’ve had discussions with a range of leaders, including the Prime Minister of Spain and the Prime Minister of Ireland in recent times. But we make our own decisions. We’ve been clear that what we will be guided to by is whether recognition will advance the cause of peace and progress towards a two state solution. That is what we are committed to.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, why didn’t the Immigration Minister appeal the Administrative Appeals Tribunal against the free detainee now charged with murder?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this was a decision by the AAT. Minister Giles has responded and has done a press conference on these matters today.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister would Labor’s electoral fortunes in Queensland be boosted with Kate Jones on the Senate ticket?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s a matter for the Queensland branch. I know Kate Jones. She’s a very good person. I have a lot to do with her in the National Rugby League. But those matters are a matter for the organisational branch. Currently, we hold just one Senate seat out of the six that will be up for grabs when the election’s held next year. So, Queensland will select a team. I’m certainly hopeful of at least two senators being elected from Queensland, but it’s a matter for them and I don’t think I have a vote in that pre-selection ballot.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we will examine those issues as they arise. We know that the issue of cyber security is a major one. My Government has been determined to work with industry to beef up our protections, which are there and will continue to do so.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we know is that some of it was being rorted. There were people coming here when Scott Morrison made the decision to lift the amount of hours that students could work coming here not so much to study, but so that they could actually have a side door into our great country that is Australia. I understand why people want to come to Australia and make it their home, but we need an orderly migration system. We need to value educational institutions that, one, provide important export dollars for Australia as a service industry, but secondly, as well, make a contribution towards educating and giving skills and knowledge to people, particularly from our region, because they go back and they become ambassadors for Australia as well. On migration, we’ve been very clear that we are going to get the numbers down. And that compares, I think, favourably with the Coalition’s migration policy confusion that we’ve seen in recent days. We saw the Leader of the Opposition commit to cutting net overseas migration to 160,000 in the first year of a Coalition Government. Then the Shadow Treasurer said they would cut the number by 25 per cent over three years to 195,000. The Shadow Environment Minister said the number would be 140,000. And Senator Paterson said that they would reduce migration by just a little bit. Just a little bit. No wonder Peter Dutton has not spoken at the National Press Club in the entire time he has been Liberal Party leader, a venue where I’ve spoken nine times. The fact is that every time they announce a policy or a thought when they’re asked about the substance, you don’t get anything. You get a mess. And it was shambolic Angus Taylor’s performance at the National Press Club yesterday, whether it was on migration or on nuclear policy. We were told that we would have the details in March. Then we were told we’d have the details before the Budget. Then it would be in the Budget reply. Now I read today it’s going to be in June. What we know is that these reactors are six times more expensive, six times more expensive than renewables. What we know is that a whole lot of them need to be here in Queensland. And we know that Peter Dutton keeps promising detail and substance and costings, but we haven’t had anyone put their hand up and say they’re prepared to finance it. The truth is that the Opposition, whenever they actually come up with a policy, don’t come up with any costings and then when asked about it, are all over the shop. What we need in this country is a plan to take the country forward. What we’ve done today with the National Battery Strategy, following on from our hydrogen hubs, from our Solar SunShot Program, from our Future Made in Australia program, including national rail manufacturing and making more things here, is a coherent strategy to grow the economy, to have high value jobs, to skill up the workers for these jobs as we go. That’s what you need. If you’re serious about being either a government or an alternative government.

JOURNALIST:(Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Look Peter Dutton will use his own words. And what I do is take a principled position, which is what we have. We have said. We have said that Israel has a right to defend itself. How it defends itself matters. We have said that very, very clearly. What I don’t do as Prime Minister is to respond to every incoming quote. I mean, you have in the Parliament, you have had the Greens move suspension motions every week in order to then mischaracterise what that means when those suspension motions haven’t come up. What we actually need going forward is a coherent position, which is what we have taken. We’ll continue to do that, take a principal position going forward.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you want Eraring to be the last extension of a coal fired power station to meet demand? Or would you be comfortable with further extensions if they’re needed?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’re getting on with the job of the transition that is needed. A transition that says 82 per cent by 2030 of our energy mix should be renewables. Batteries will play a role in that. It’s one of the things that we’re doing today. It’s talking about storage, how you actually deliver that. The truth is that coal fired power stations, by and large, are reaching the end of their life and can’t be extended. The former Government used to say they’d extend the life of Liddell. They couldn’t Liddell shut on their watch, even though they said time and time again. You had promises held out here in Queensland over the Collinsville project, with proponents given taxpayers money, even though that had no prospect of advancing. What we actually need is serious policy going forward. I think it is reasonable what the NSW Government have done on Eraring and to make sure that it supports the NSW grid while more renewables come into the system. Thanks very much.

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